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Baseball: Santana and Twins slice Yanks

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posted on Aug, 19 2004 @ 09:21 AM
This time, Santana knocked down Derek Jeter and silenced New York's powerful lineup.

The left-hander took a shutout into the eighth inning Wednesday night and won his fifth straight start, spoiling Mike Mussina's return from the disabled list by pitching Minnesota to a 7-2 victory.

Santana's last start against the Yankees came in Game 4 of the 2003 AL division series. The Yankees roughed him up for six early runs and eliminated the Twins from the postseason.

Jeter said he doesn't remember facing Santana last October.

He won't forget this game.

Santana brought a loud roar from the crowd when he barely missed hitting Jeter in the head with a high-and-tight pitch in the third inning, sending the Yankees' star sprawling to the ground.

"That's a great lineup over there, they have some very good hitters," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He went right at 'em."

Shannon Stewart went 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs for the Twins, who have outscored the Yankees 15-4 in winning the first two of a three-game series between AL division leaders. Jacque Jones also homered for Minnesota, which won for the fourth time in six games and sent New York to its third consecutive loss.

"It's great to beat one of the best teams, but we showed and we proved that we can face any team," Santana said.

Santana gave up two runs and five hits in seven-plus innings with six strikeouts and one walk. He retired 11 in a row during one stretch and helped put an end to Jeter's 17-game hitting streak, which tied a career high for the Yankees' shortstop.

Since the All-Star break, Santana is 6-0 with a 1.82 ERA, perhaps pushing him to the front of the AL Cy Young Award race.

"Look at his numbers," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He'll make anybody say 'Wow!"'

Santana said he doesn't concern himself with individual awards, though.

"For me, it's all about the playoffs and the World Series this time," he said.

Santana has outdueled some of baseball's best pitchers this month, including Oakland's Tim Hudson and Boston's Pedro Martinez.

After giving up only two hits through the first seven innings, Santana (13-6) allowed three straight hits to open the eighth and a run-scoring wild pitch. He was relieved by Grant Balfour, and the Yankees scored another run on Miguel Cairo's RBI groundout.

Joe Nathan struck out two in the ninth, extending his streak to 29 scoreless innings spanning 28 appearances.

The crowd of 41,125 gave Santana a standing ovation as he walked to the dugout.

After the game, Jeter asked reporters when he last faced Santana.

"To be honest, I don't even remember, but today he pitched great," Jeter said.

Santana fared much better than Mussina (9-7), who made his first start since July 6 - he went on the disabled list the next day with a stiff right elbow. Before the game, Torre said he hoped to get at least five innings out of Mussina, but he didn't have much on his pitches and Tanyon Sturtze came out for the fifth with the Twins leading 4-0.

"We didn't expect lights out today," Torre said. "We were hoping he'd throw more strikes, but he battled it."

Mussina, who fell to 20-3 lifetime against Minnesota, allowed five hits, four runs, two walks and struck out two with one hit batter. It was his first loss to the Twins as a Yankee. One positive for Mussina: his elbow didn't bother him.

"I knew it wasn't going to be the way it was, just yet," he said. "You hope you have better command of your fastball."

He looked rusty from the start. His second pitch of the night was down the middle and Stewart knocked it into the left-field seats to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.

Mussina appeared to settle down after that, but things started going sour for him when he led off the fourth by hitting Lew Ford in the leg with a pitch. Corey Koskie followed with a broken-bat double, and Cristian Guzman hit a two-run double off the baggie in right field.

Three batters later, Stewart lined a double to left to score Guzman and make it 4-0.

Things got uglier for the Yankees in the sixth. Henry Blanco led off with a triple off Sturtze and scored when Stewart hit into a double play. Jones then hit his 20th home run of the year and Torii Hunter followed with a double and scored on Justin Morneau's RBI single.


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